Chinese Tea Brick

18th-19th century
Coins & Medals, Gallery 37

  Related Objects in the Ashmolean

Coins & Medals, Gallery 37

1.Chinese Knife Money

This Chinese coin from the first century BC has the shape of a knife. In China, all kinds of bronze and copper objects circulated as coins. The best known are spade and knife (or sword) coins. Initially, real spades and knives were exchanged as money. In the course of time they became replaced by spades and knives that were not made for their original use and they became gradually more flat and blunt. In the border region of China, Thaliand and Burma there are still tribes who use knives as currency today.


Indian, Tibetan & South-East Asian Art, Gallery 22

2. Tibetan Ceremonial Teapot

A pungent thick tea made with yak butter is the most popular beverage of Tibetans and an important part of their traditional diet. This fine silver gilt teapot has a dragon handle and a spout emerging from a sea-monster’s mouth. It was made in the 19th century and formerly belonged to Surkhang Shape, who was a leading minister of the Dalai Lama at Lhasa.